A Japanese Sushi Experience

すし岩

It was an unassuming building, on the corner of two streets that didn’t stand out for any particular reason. There was a single illuminated sign to the left of the entrance door that simply had 3 Japanese characters. Nothing about the front door felt like the correct door to enter the restaurant, but we tried it, and fortunately it was indeed the correct door. Upon opening the manual sliding wooden door, we were greeted by a man who we would later learn to be the owner and head chef. Shortly after he greeted us, we also learned he spoke fluent English. It was a very inviting atmosphere and we soon found we were in for one amazing experience!

The chef’s name is Toshiya Ohnishi and, he lives above the restaurant with his family. I believe he took on the restaurant from his father, who started the restaurant. Toshiya-san walked us through the menu and how ordering worked. When ordering, you can choose the Omakase (chef’s recommendation) in several tiers. The tiers are broken up by price. With each increased tier, the food courses remain the same, but the quality of the fish increased.

The Pricing Tiers:
¥10,000 (~$80)
¥12,000
¥15,000
¥20,000
¥30,000 (~$240)

You can also order à la carte, but we decided we had to do the chef recommendation and expand our sushi world! We chose the ¥20,000 tier and got ready for what would become one of the most amazing experiences of my life!

The chef was also very accommodating to anyone’s food allergies. He was sure to substitute anything with scallops for Valerie’s food (she is allergic to scallops). This was fortunate, considering the very first thing that was going to come out was a plate of scallops.

COURSE 1
We started with an appetizer that consisted of 3 small bowls. 
Bowl 1: fresh fig with a delicious sauce
Bowl 2: three small pieces of fish with a glaze
Bowl 3: a mystery that the chef called “a special surprise”. Neither one of us had any idea what it was. The only guess I could come up with was some kind of brain. I was way off! After finishing the appetizer the chef came over and described to us what the mystery ingredient was; it was fish sperm. He told us a story about how when buying this delicacy during its short season, 90% of the cost of this fish is the sperm and the fish itself is actually pretty garbage and not used for much in the way of sushi.

COURSE 2
Next up, sashimi.
The sashimi plate was by far the highest quality fish I have ever eaten. It consisted of fatty tuna, salmon, yellow jack, and mackerel.

COURSE 3
The third course, soup.
The soup was a boiling fish soup with assorted mushrooms. Again, very delicious!

COURSE 4
The main course was 8 pieces of nigiri, served one at a time. The chef would make up 2 of them and place one each in front of us. As we ate each one, he would prepare the next, and so on. This portion was beyond comparison, from the quality and taste, to the presentation.

COURSE 5
Finally, dessert.
Dessert consisted of soft mochi in a sauce and red bean powder. You mix it all together and eat it with chopsticks. It tasted like a delicious candy bar!

The chef really made this experience special. He would engage us in conversation and tell us great stories about the food itself or the surrounding area throughout the meal. Always showing up to talk at the most perfect times. One cool story was that of Steve Jobs coming to visit and eating at the restaurant whenever he was in Kyoto. There was a hand written message signed by Steve on the wall. (Photos below)

Sharing this experience with my wife was beyond comparison! I will never forget it!

MINI Takes The States 2014

We did it again! Another MINI Takes The States road trip has concluded! This is our fourth year attending the epic MINI sponsored event (2008, 2010, 2012, 2014) and it just gets bigger and better every year. The event started in 2006 and runs every two years, with the routes and events changing each time.

This year’s adventure began in San Francisco and headed out east, eventually ending up in Boston. We did not do the entire route this year due to time constraints, but we still turned it into an awesome adventure! After the New Mexico checkpoint, we turned back west to head for the Grand Canyon and then back home.

As always, this event remains one of the best events put on by any company in any industry. This is just another reason that MINI customers are life long customers. Thanks to MINI USA, and everyone who attended this year, and we can’t wait to see you all again in two years! Start the countdown!! 🙂

Overall the trip took us the following route.

Trip Stats7 Days6 States2876 Miles1 Speeding Ticket8 Stops for Gas0 Cracked Windshields1374 Photos Taken178 Minutes of Video

Photos and Video from the tripMINI Takes The States Photos

MINI Takes The States Video

Grand Canyon Photos

Bearizona Photos

Bearizona GoPro Car Video

Bonus PhotosMINI LEGO Creation Set

Collection of all MTTS event Photos

Opinion: No More Carry On Bags

Dear Travelers,

Air travel sucks nowadays. This is not news to anyone, and it didn’t just start sucking last week, it’s been gradually getting worse. This is not the main reason for this post. There are many aspects to flying that make it miserable that cannot be changed no matter how much people think they can be. There are fortunately, I think, a few areas that you can actually change to make things a little more tolerable.

  1. Waiting in the endless security line. This is your first or second step upon arriving at the airport, and often one of the worst experiences. Poor treatment, rude people, and de-humanizing acts. The only way around this is to get a Known Traveler Number which gets you into the TSA Pre Check line. Basically this is what it was like to fly in the 1990’s. It does feel a bit like extortion, but it is well worth the money in my mind. Also if you fly internationally, you can go through the process of joining the Global Entry program which is basically Pre Check for international travel. Getting Global Entry will also get you Pre Check for US travel.

  2. Stop bringing your giant “carry on” bags on the plane. That bag is huge, not a carry on, and you know it. Check the damn thing and make everyone’s life easier. Pay the baggage check fee, or join an airline program that gives you free checked bags. The entire flight should not suffer and wait while you find a place to fit your bag that takes up the entire overhead bin, plus your overstuffed backpack, and miscellaneous bag of tourist stuff, because you didn’t want to check your bags like you should.

  3. Learn some manners and be respectful of others. An airplane is small, cramped, and you are no worse off than everyone else. It’s an airplane, not your house. Clean up your stuff, be quiet, and quit bothering people. Every action you take is magnified by 100 because you are in a small, loud, smelly tube with 175 other people.

The last thing I want to say is that I know “all airlines suck”, and of course there are definitely some scenarios where they REALLY do, but I wonder how much of it is directly related to the passengers. Be cognizant of your actions when you are at the airport and on the plane. If everyone can just think about their actions, we may be able to get this process moving a bit smoother to our next destination.

For what it’s worth, I fly Southwest for the most part, and find them to be generally good.